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Cleaning the Stream: Oatlands Mill Rd, Leesburg, VA

AuthorRichard Zaher

The night before returning, I made a tool that combined a ceiling painting rod, a gardening tool with a hook, and a metal fork. I got up early, put on a ski suit and hat, pulled open the front door, and saw a snowstorm raging outside. The same doubts as the day before assailed my mind, but I repeated to myself, “I’m doing this today.”

Richard Zaher pulling out rusted drums from the stream at Oatland Mills Road

I got into G500, drove to Oatlands Mill Road for the second consecutive day, and parked on the bridge. I stepped out of the car, sank in the snow, and walked to the stream. I cleared away pebbles and reached down into the water with the new tool, and it worked. I hooked it in the center of the drums, pulled the first part closer, and dropped it in the bucket. One by one, I pulled out the entire drum set.

Rusted steel drums in a bucket

I then noticed a garbage bag lying in the water. The bag was full of used diapers. It was not a pretty sight, but I had to get it out of the water because it polluted the stream. Everything worked out perfectly. Soon, the bags of trash were in the trunk.

Richard Zaher standing at the Oatland Mills Road stream

As I was getting into my car to go to a landfill, a cable company van got stuck in the snow right in front of me. I was in the right place at just the right time, with a rope and a 4×4 vehicle. It felt as though God was guiding me from one act of kindness to the next. You can read more about it on the Thanking Duane story page.

I helped a person that day, made a new friend, and removed 83 pounds of trash from the stream. It felt good to be helpful! I could see that my actions had made a difference.


Richard Zaher

About the author

Honesty, hard work, and treating people well – these are cornerstones of my life and Best You Best Me foundation. I try to keep my eyes and heart open because opportunities for kindness are everywhere.

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